My husband and I just moved to Murfreesboro and being bbq crazy people this was our home away from home the first few weeks. The staff is very friendly and welcoming, the bbq is spot on for Eastern Carolina, and the fried chicken is outstanding. We've gone in for a meal off the menu and a buffet lunch and they were both really good. I haven't had room left to try their desserts yet, but I plan on it!!Review Source:
I travel all over Eastern NC for work. Hungry one day with some time in between appointments I gave this place a try. I'm a skeptic when it comes to food in Eastern NC because of past experience. I ordered a pork bbq sandwich and a sweet tea. The guy at the register couldn't have been nicer. Anyway took the sandwich to my car and low and behold I could not believe what I was tasting ! Â The sandwich was unreal ! I mean get out of the car howl at the moon good. I was stunned ! By the time I was done I went back inside and told the guy not only was it the best NC bbq I have ever tasted it was the best sandwich I'd ever eaten. Â Yes the best sandwich ever is located here.Review Source:
I have family in the area and visited on a Sunday at lunch for the buffet. Â It was packed but the wait staff was efficient and friendly. Â The food was great! Â I grew up in Eastern NC so I've had my fair share of
BbQ and theirs is solidly good. Â The fried chicken was right up there with my Mom's (there is no higher compliment)! Â The brunswick stew was a little on the sweet side for me. Â Overall the food was better than average. Â The desserts on the buffet were nothing special. Â If you're passing through or close by during eating time and want some good food this is worth a try!
I almost, practically, accidentally missed Whitley's.
I go out of my way to taste and try BBQ. Â And have lost count of how many BBQ joints I have taste-tested. Â If you know BBQ, you know how dull and frustrating it can be to do "blind" visits. Â Most of them suffer from one problem or another.
So, a couple of weeks ago, wending my way through Eastern North Carolina, I found Whitley's around dinner time on the Saturday before Mother's Day. Â Passed it before I realized it was a new BBQ joint. Â
"BBQ on the right... parking lot full.... Saturday nite.... me hungry... Â BBQ! Â Turn around!"
Errrrrchhhhh.... and one short U-turn later I was in the parking lot. Â Packed. Â Always a good sign.
My first reaction was negative for a reason most people wouldn't have: Â the place just looked too neat, clean and tidy. Â I know, color me weird that way.
But ANY BBQ joint in Eastern North Carolina, particularly any place off the interstate, Â big-road beaten path qualifies for a taste. Â And this one was packed of a Saturday nite.
This nite, they were hummin'. Â A big buffet had been set up in the room adjacent to the entrance area. Â Country folks, families, mostly. Â Also, a gooooood sign. Â People who know what real home-cooking is sposed to taste like are a good barometer of BBQ.
But, again, I did not have my hopes up. Â I had guessed that the Q would be passable, with maybe some good sides.
I ordered a regular chopped BBQ. Â Altho north of NC, I always specify "sauce on the side," here in the pork-BBQ nerve center of the United States, I knew that would not be necessary. Â Indeed 't'warn't. Â I also ordered a Brunswick Stew, peculiar to this part of the country, and another standard taste-barometer. Â I like Brunswick Stew ok, but since many BBQ joints make it, it is one of 2 or 3 things I order just to get an apples-to-apples idea of whether I will bother coming back to a place.
Now, here's the tragedy.... wait for it. Â It's not what you expect.
I got my stuff to go, and headed back out to the car. Â About mid-way through a long drive between Ocracoke and Lynchburg, VA, I was in a hurry to get back on the road. Â I set up my sweet tea in the cupholder, opened the wrapper to the BBQ, and glanced inside. Â Everything okay there. Â A quick spoon dip into the Brunswick Stew, and put that one way to be tossed out when I got home. Too bad.
Cranked up the Tahoe and hit the road. Â About a mile down the road, I gently tuck up the BBQ in hand and took my first bite.
"Sweet Holy Jesus! Â Damn! Damn! Damn!"
I had just taken a bite out of 1) the best goddamned pork BBQ I have ever had! and 2)the ONLY one of them I had with me (the aforementioned tragedy)!
You just cain't describe what anything really tastes like. Â But here are the high points. Â
This was coarse chopped on a plain bun; it looked like pulled and chopped to me. Â The meat was not smoky, or if it was, the smoke was missed due to my extreme gusto and enthusiasm. That is not a criticism, altho I love smoky pork. Â The meat was fresh. Â It had NOT been lying around steaming or drying out. Â Nor was it wet. Â Like many NC style pork BBQs, this had been very lightly sauced, with that unmistakable style of vinegar-based BBQ sauce, also sometimes used as a finishing "mop."
I had asked for slaw on the side, but this sandwich looked like someone back in the kitchen had first put a dollop of slaw on, and then removed it. Â Telltale flecks of slaw were speckled on top of the pork, when I first opened it up. Â Now, I usually avoid slaw Â on my sandwich, but these few little flecks really worked to improve the sandwich. Â Next time, I will order mine "with slaw on the sandwich, but take it off before you bring it to me!" Â
That'll twist some minds.
Moist, sweet, absolutely, fall-down-on-the-ground, stunningly good, classic Eastern North Carolina BBQ that I have never tasted the equal of anywhere. Â Period.
I can point you to places who make the same KIND of BBQ. Â But I cannot send you to a better one. Â Not anywhere on this particular planet.
I liked the slaw, but will forego a detailed discussion of it. Â The BBQ here is the reason to go waaaay out of your way in time and distance to get to Whitley's. Â This is a religious pilgrimage all true BBQ pro's should go on. Â
I EXTRASPECIALLY urge all those new (and old) restauranteurs who serve what-they-call-BBQ--from Virginia north. Â This is the benchmark you should aim for. Â It is not black-box magic; you do not have to "improve" on it. This is BBQ that can turn a failing business around.
Negatives? Â I found the Brunswick Stew to be strangely gluey. Â As if a regular stew had been ultra-thickened with cornstarch or tapioca. Â I found it very unappetizing.
Sadly, Whitley's is not on any of my regular travel routes. But I cannot wait to make the extra couple of hours detour to it, on my next trip south!